Some quote, “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man” (Jn 3:13). Yet, we first have to take this verse in its context – Jesus was explaining to Nicodemus how to receive eternal life. Only the one who came from heaven, died, is resurrected, and ascend back to heaven can provide that. This verse is referring to volitionally doing so. Only Jesus had the means and power to do so on his own accord. Enoch, Moses, and Elijah did not volitionally ascend into heaven. God took them. They had no power on their own accord to do so. Therefore, this verse does not preclude these three from also being in heaven. We also do not need to fabricate how these three were placed in another location until God used them again.
Then, there are others who claim Elijah was back on earth after he was supposedly taken to heaven. They refer to a verse in 2nd Chronicles: “Jehoram [son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah] received a letter from Elijah the prophet…” (2Ch 21:12). This event occurred after the death of Jehoshaphat, yet Elijah was translated before the death of Jehoshaphat. Is there a rational explanation? I think there is. The word translated ‘letter’ is usually translated ‘writing’ in most other places. Therefore, Jehoram received a writing from Elijah (likely delivered by Elisha or another prophet). This is a simple, yet plausible, explanation and would not be inconsistent with the delivery of prophecy. Elijah made sure it was delivered at the specified time after he was taken away. This would ensure the delivery would have its maximum effect upon the king. Unfortunately, the king was un-phased even with such a prophetic delivery.
It is interesting that we find these three Old Testament individuals also represent how people will enter Christ’ earthly Promised Kingdom once he returns. The following table shows this:
Why were only Moses & Elijah transfigured with Christ? Jesus would be building his church and his future bride would be composed of those who would be resurrected and those who would be translated.
Does this have anything to do with the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation (Rv 11)? The actions of these two are reminiscent of actions and miracles of Moses and Elijah. Since Moses and Elijah already have glorified bodies, the two witnesses may not be them specifically, but may represent, or be prototypes, of the types of individuals these two witnesses will be.
Okay, let’s summarize. Prior to Christ’s first coming, only the Trinity and angels had access to heaven. None of the righteous (those placing their faith in the coming Messiah), with three exceptions, were in Heaven prior to Christ’s first coming. Enoch, Moses, and Elijah gave hope to Israel they would one day be with their Messiah. These three are prophetic of the type of people who will make up Christ’s future earthly kingdom: those who will be alive at the time of Christ’s second coming (represented by Enoch), those who were part of the Rapture prior to Christ’s second coming (represented by Elijah), and those who will be resurrected either at the Rapture or at the time of Christ’s second coming (represented by Moses). These examples also demonstrate to us today that the Old Testament is proof of the prophecy to be fulfilled in the New Testament. What hasn’t been fulfilled yet, will still be fulfilled in our future. We can trust God is faithful to bring to pass what his Word says.
Fall Jewish Holidays - Part 1: Rosh Hashanah
Fall Jewish Holidays - Part 4: Salvation & Faith
Heaven Prior to Christ's First Coming